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More space for rivers

More space for rivers

They give and take. This is what author and film director Michael Mayer learned about the rivers of Salzburg during his film and book project “Platz da!”.

The idea originated over cheese dumpling soup in March 2022. During a ski tour with his friend Robert Loisel, Michael Mayer, head of hydraulic engineering at the state of Salzburg – who has been editor of the newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt for 20 years – spoke about his latest book and contemporary witness project “Border Life.” . In it he depicts those persecuted by the Nazis in his hometown of Silian. (Note: Michael Mayer will be a guest at Haus der Kultur in Anif on January 24 at 7pm with this theme.)

“We are also contemporary witnesses to the floods, if you think back to the event that occurred in 2002,” Loisel said. Thought, done. The idea quickly became a reality. New Michael Mayer (65) took charge first of the film and then of the associated book project entitled “A Place There! How Salzburg's Rivers Became Safer and More Liveable.” Both will be completed at the end of 2023.

The book is a documentary and reference work in one, published by Anton-Pustet-Verlag and – like the film – in cooperation with the State of Salzburg and the Federal Ministry of Water Management at the end of 2023. The link to the film and book can be ordered free of charge ([email protected]).

“With both, we want to raise awareness about the rivers in the state of Salzburg,” says Michael Mayer. “They used to control the valleys and had enough space. Analyzes have shown that the rivers seem to have a memory. They broke out in most places where they were dammed.”

It's no secret that the valley floors were once farmed and made habitable. “A lot of limits were crossed, and then we were presented with the bill during the floods,” says Mayer.

The book is based on Mur in St. Michael im Lungau

The cover image shows the moors at St. Michael's with its meanders. Not without reason, because “it is the template.” There was once a Moor Organizing Cooperative here, “which was incredibly powerful because it created a lot of space for building and farming.” The Mur channel is destined for power plant projects. At some point the breaking point came: things couldn't go on like this. The so-called Moore Dialogue was launched in 2016. People came to the meetings in large numbers and the result was the reshaping and expansion of the Moores. “It's been recognized here that you have to engage citizens.”

The author, with a great sense of justice, is proud of the fact that the 2023 Neptune Water Prize went to St. Michael for his film sequences about the Lungau project.

The impact of local recreation and nature restoration in Salach

On the one hand, it was recognized that rivers needed more space, but they also saw the impact of local recreation. “The Salzachspitz in Liefering has become an attraction,” says Mayer. Saalach was also given a new flow pattern at Wals-Siezenheim. Construction manager Gunter Huber is already talking about the river being twice as wide.

Director and author Michael Mayer, a community activist, has learned through his work that flood protection never ends and is not just a matter of experts. Their work is better seen and becomes more important. “It would be good to show the film and book as an educational example in universities and schools. One thing became very clear to me during the research: flood protection affects everyone.” Lecture on Brave People and Civic Courage Lecture on Brave People and Civic Courage